Greatest podcast episodes of all time
January 13, 2021 6:27 AM   Subscribe

There are simply too many podcasts these days and not enough time in the day. I would like to create a curated playlist of single podcast episodes. Please share with me what you consider to be your favorites. Any genre will do. Any emotion arising after listening will do. All that matters is that I optimize the little time I have and fill my ears with amazing single podcast episodes.
posted by jasondigitized to Computers & Internet (34 answers total) 141 users marked this as a favorite
How To! With Charles Duhigg, the episode "How To Get Your Dog to Stop Eating Your Daughters’ Underwear"
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 6:47 AM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Heavyweight, the episode "#2 Gregor"
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 6:50 AM on January 13, 2021 [4 favorites]

I find episode 76 of Terrible, Thanks for Asking, "It Just Happens," incredibly moving and emotional, but it's definitely intense.
posted by guster4lovers at 6:52 AM on January 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Colors from Radiolab. A very goofy but enlightening episode in which they explore vision and color and the wonders of the all-seeing mantis shrimp through choral music.
posted by NewShoo at 6:55 AM on January 13, 2021 [6 favorites]

The Fiasco! episode of This American Life makes me laugh so hard every time.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:10 AM on January 13, 2021 [11 favorites]

Mobituaries - Laura Branigan

Hidden Brain - Romeo and Juliet in Kigali

The Anthropocene Reviewed - Auld Lang Syne

Invisibilia - How to Become Batman

Heavyweight (agree with the above and add) - Jesse

Radiolab (agree with the above and add) - Alpha Gal
posted by maya at 7:14 AM on January 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

For serious WTF, the Switched At Birth episode of This American Life is hard to beat.

Two babies were switched at birth and raised by the wrong families. One mother knew all along and said nothing.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 7:26 AM on January 13, 2021

This American Life, 129 Cars. (Also included on TAL's list of favorites, along with Switched At Birth.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:29 AM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

I would add the Girl Guide episode of Reply-All, stick through the cookie drama to get to the life altering part.

The Batman (about blindness) episode of This American Life.

It kind of depends on how much chatting you like but I have been really enjoying Why Are Dads, particularly The Terminator and the Dirty Dancing episodes.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:39 AM on January 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

WTF #604: Marc Maron interviews Terry Gross
posted by niicholas at 7:48 AM on January 13, 2021 [4 favorites]

Do Go On - The Principality of Sealand
posted by mdonley at 7:56 AM on January 13, 2021

The coolest one I know is this episode from Radiolab. Here is the synopsis:

"Matt Kielty introduces us to Steve Volk, a city reporter in Philadelphia who--for decades--was plagued by a recurring nightmare. It popped up whenever Steve was going through a stressful time, and it always played out exactly the same way. But no matter how self-aware Steve was about his most current set of anxieties, and no matter how hard he tried to rationalize and explain away the dream...he couldn't make it stop.

Then one year, Steve started working on a book about topics at the edge of science, and along the way he stumbled into lucid dreaming. Pretty soon, Steve was reading through old sleep studies conducted by a scientist named Stephen LaBerge, and he was starting to wonder if lucid dreaming might not be so fringe-y after all. So he called up LaBerge's assistant and began training himself on a set of techniques that would eventually help him put his inner demon to bed."
posted by SweetLiesOfBokonon at 8:08 AM on January 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

Ologies - Mycology (mushrooms/fungus), Dasyurology (Tasmanian devils), Planariology (fascinating and bizarre worms!)

Creature Feature - Reefer Madness

The Flop House - Castle Freak

Behind the Bastards: The Man Who Teaches Our Cops To Kill

Night Vale - ep 13, A Story About You
posted by snerson at 8:52 AM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Swindled Podcast's The Promotion about "Uncle Jerry" and the McDonald's Monopoly promotion scam, and Fyre Festival, are both excellent.
posted by mezzanayne at 8:57 AM on January 13, 2021

Mystery Show - Belt Buckle
posted by wsquared at 9:22 AM on January 13, 2021 [5 favorites]

I have a bunch:

Reply All - What It Looks Like (about depression.)

Reply All - Today's The Day (a happy one, though this one is better if you've listened to at least a few episodes of Reply All before)

Here Be Monsters - Crossing The River, Being Watched (mysterious)

Love and Radio - The Living Room

Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People - Ron Paul's Baby

Love and Radio - Deep Stealth Mode (beautiful)

And a two-parter: Made of Human - Susan Calman: Look! There's a wee lesbian on the telly! & Your psychiatric ward or mine?
posted by snusmumrik at 10:17 AM on January 13, 2021

You're Wrong About--Anna Nicole Smith

Behind the Bastards--The Bastards Who Killed the Black Panthers, Part One, Part Two


Decoder Ring--Truck Nutz

Bad Gays--Morrissey
posted by ActionPopulated at 10:58 AM on January 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

You're Wrong About - Kitty Genovese. You'll twitch every time someone mentions "the bystander effect" after this.

Heavyweight - Scott. All the feelings, basically.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:28 PM on January 13, 2021 [4 favorites]

Reply All - Country of Liars (about who is behind QAnon, also acts as a very level-headed Q explainer)

You're Wrong About - if a mini-series is acceptable, their 5-episode series about Princess Diana was gripping, as someone who has never cared about the Royal family.

This American Life - What is this Thing?

Matt and Sarah Talk About Songs - Live Through This

Queery - Roxane Gay
posted by lunasol at 1:08 PM on January 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

Sorry to post another This American Life, but the episode about cryonics gone wrong is pretty incredible. I even made my spouse listen to it and he was rapt (and he’s emphatically not a radio or podcast guy).

House on Loon Lake is memorable too.
posted by liet at 2:27 PM on January 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Ars Paradoxica is a terrific time travel-themed radio drama where a physicist mistakenly invents time travel when her experiment goes wrong and she goes from the present to the Manhattan Project era early 1940s. After the plot is done, the ensemble cast did some one-off extra episodes, and this one Curses is masterful. Being from the 2020s-ish, the physicist Sally Grissom scandalizes her 1940s male colleagues with the fluency of her cursing, so she sits them down and gives them a hilarious cursing lesson.

S-Town is pretty extraordinary as a seven episode whole, so it's hard to choose just one episode.

Almost all of the Anthropocene Reviewed-s and the Everything is Alive-s, but especially the reviews of Hawaiian Pizza and Viral Meningitis and the Capacity for Wonder and Sunsets, and the interviews with Maeve, Lamppost, and Chioke, Grain of Sand with the continuation Chioke, Pane of Glass.

Also seconding Belt Buckle from the Mystery Show, posted above. That podcast is sorely missed! It flew too close to the sun.

Also, Louder than a Riot is a crucial podcast as a whole.
posted by umbú at 3:13 PM on January 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Take A Bao: #2, The Disappearing Coffeehouses of Malaysia or #3, Dalgona Coffee

Strong Songs: "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton

Futility Closet: The Destruction of the Doves Type

Lexicon Valley: Our Indigenous Languages, The Soft Power of Like
posted by exceptinsects at 4:05 PM on January 13, 2021

Shrink Rap Radio: Life Among the Piraha.
Rationally Speaking: Effects of lead on crime.
Mindscape: Will Wilkinson on polarization.
The Truth: Murder at Cakery Bakery.
posted by catquas at 4:18 PM on January 13, 2021

Why female entrepreneurs face unique obstacles - Inside Strategic Coach
posted by parmanparman at 4:34 PM on January 13, 2021

This episode of "U Talkin U2 To Me," about the god-awful turn-of-the-century nu-metal band Staind, had me paralyzed with laughter.
posted by zeusianfog at 4:37 PM on January 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Dollop #12 [NSFW], about Rube Waddell, the greatest professional baseball player you've never heard of.
posted by Rykey at 12:22 PM on January 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Tank Riot: Episode 56 - The Olympics
posted by metadave at 9:32 PM on January 14, 2021

99% Invisible - Wild Ones Live
Excerpt from the book Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America with musical accompaniment. It's about the shifting baseline of our understanding of nature, loss and destruction on a terrifying scale, but also tiny foolish humans doing crazy stuff in defiance. I'm weeping just thinking about the crane dancer.
posted by Freyja at 7:19 AM on January 15, 2021

The Anthropocene Reviewed - Googling Strangers and Kentucky Bluegrass is really good.
posted by beandip at 7:32 AM on January 15, 2021

Darknet Diaries, episode 36: Jeremy from Marketing
"A company hires a penetration tester to pose as a new hire, Jeremy from Marketing, to see how much he can hack into in his first week on the job. It doesn’t go as planned."
posted by ela at 3:13 AM on January 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

For the laughs:
Punch Up the Jam "Hook"

PUTJ "Kiss from a Rose" changed my whole perspective of this song i used to hate

True Crime Obsessed "Grizzly Man" (yes a true crime podcast but not really a crime oriented episode)

TCO "The Galapagos Affair" (same)
posted by wannabecounselor at 6:12 AM on January 17, 2021

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